Having spent most of my 3 days at Siem Reap visiting temples, I wanted to do something different before leaving for Battambang today afternoon. That’s when I heard of Chong Khneas – a whole village floating on the waters of Tonle Sap, the biggest lake in South East Asia. So, how did I miss this in my itinerary?!? I went back to my Lonely Planet guide, and after much searching I saw a tiny paragraph quoting that the visit to the floating village had become too touristic and over-priced. Still, I was not satisfied with the other alternatives and decided to take the trip! It turns out that Lonely Planet was indeed right but I did enjoy some parts of the trip, so let me share them with you 🙂
A 30 minute tuk-tuk ride (read bumpy ride) from Siem Reap brought me to the docking station where I got onto my boat. When my guide showed me the first building of the village, a floating police station, I was not ready to accept that it was actually “floating”! It was pretty close to the shore and looked very stable. I was sure that it was connected to the ground through some poles! But no, all the buildings in this village have bamboo shafts and air-filled cans as their base which lets them float on the water. There are around 8000 people living like this, mostly fishermen whose livelihood very much depended on the water and those who couldn’t afford to live on land. I was surprised to see mechanics shop, convenience store, market, church, schools and even beauty salons among the floating structures.
An interesting part of their life is moving! If the level of water in one region of the lake gets low during the dry season, they drag their houses using their boats and relocate to another part of the lake. How amazing would it be if we could do the same with our houses? 😉
The boat then took me to a floating fish and crocodile farm (it is actually a souvenir shop) in the middle of the lake. Crocodiles are bred here for their skin and meat(whaat? :O)
Okay, Coming to the highlight of the visit 😛 This is me and those, my friends, are two real snakes 😀
I must confess though, that I am beyond terrified of snakes. Infact, anything crawling is my fear factor! But I saw these two kids playing with the snakes as if they were toys.
I felt sorry for them and even though I am generally against giving money to such child exploitation, this time I just couldn’t walk away. Plus, I wanted to face my fears. And now is always a good time 🙂 To show you how much courage it took for me to handle those snakes, here is my original reaction 😀
And I turn this around to such a big smile for the camera. I should be able to put this in my resume 😛
I hope you enjoyed reading this and the pictures! See you soon with more updates from my trip 🙂